WASHINGTON: US Pre­si­dent Donald Trump has complained that America is fighting terrorists in Afghanistan despite being 7,000 miles away while Pakistan and India are right next door, but they are not doing so.

At a press talk on Wednesday, the US leader also emphasised the need for other countries in the region to combat these militants who, he said, posed a greater threat to them than they did to the United States.

“Look, India is right there. They are not fighting it. We are fighting it. Pakistan is right next door. They are fighting it very little. Very, very little. It’s not fair,” he said. “The United States is 7,000 miles away.”

While the US complaint that Pakistan needs to do more to eliminate militants from Afghanistan is not new, this marks the first time a US president has publicly urged India to join the fight.

American scholars, however, have long been urging India to play its role in defeating terrorists in Afghanistan. The need for Indian assistance in this war was felt throughout the long US presence in Afghanistan – which began in October 2001.

But India refused to get involved, knowing that no foreign power has ever won a war in Afghanistan, a point President Trump also mentioned in his remarks on Tuesday, pointing out that Russians entered Afghanistan as the Soviet Union and exited as Russia.

Indian policy makers feared that having troops in Afghanistan will make them unpopular and their soldiers will be like sitting ducks.

President Trump, however, feels that the United States has done its job and now it’s time for them to withdraw. Besides the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the United States has also been fighting the ISIS, he said.

“We took the caliphate 100 per cent. When I took it at 98 per cent, I said all right, maybe we go home now, let these other countries in,” he said. “Every­one went crazy. They said do 100 per cent. They said it was going to take a year. It took me a month and they are gone.”

Now, the time has come for others to shoulder this responsibility, said the US leader, adding: “At a certain point, Russia, Afghan­istan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey… they are going to have to fight their battles too. All of these other countries where ISIS is around.”

Referring to the long US presence in Afghanistan, Mr Trump asked: “Do we want to stay there for another 19 years? I don’t think so.”

That’s why, he said, he wants those countries who would be directly impacted by the ISIS’s presence in their backyard to take up the fight. “That includes Russia and it includes Iran and Turkey and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and India,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2019